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We thought the troubled warnings of a
century--the insidious aggressions of slavery, with its
violations of the sacred rights of _habeas corpus_, free speech,
and free press, with its riots in our cities, and in the councils
of the nation striking down, alike, black men and brave Senators,
all culminating, at last, in the horrid tragedies of war--must
have roused the dullest moral sense, and prepared the nation's
heart to do justice and love mercy. But we were mistaken. Sunk in
luxury, corruption, and crime--born and bred into the "guilty
phantasy that man could hold property in man," we needed the
clash of arms, the cannon's roar, the shrieks and groans of
fallen heroes, the lamentations of mothers for their first-born,
the angel's trump, the voices of the mighty dead, to wake this
stolid nation from its sleep of death.

In circulating our petition many refused to sign because they
believed slavery a divine institution, and therefore did not wish
to change the status of the slave. Others, who professed to hate
slavery, denied the right of Congress to interfere with it in the
States; and yet others condemned all dictation, or even
suggestion to Congress or the President. They said, "_Let the
people be still_ and trust the affairs of State to the management
of the rulers they, themselves, have chosen." And many of our
"old Abolitionists," believing _their_ work done, that the war
had killed slavery, knocked the bottom out of the tub, not only
declared our work one of supererogation, but told us that
petitioning, as a means of educating the people or influencing
Congress, had become obsolete.

Under all these discouragements, with neither press nor pulpit to
magnify our work, without money or the enthusiasm of numbers, in
simple faith, into the highways and hedges we sent the Gospel of
Freedom, and as of old, the people heard with gladness. A very
large majority of our petitioners are from the unlettered masses.
They who, knowing naught of the machinery of government or the
trickery of politics, believe that, as God reigns, there is
justice on the earth. As yet, none of our large cities have been
thoroughly canvassed; but from the savannahs of the South and the
prairies of the West--from the hills of New England and the
shores of our lakes and gulfs, have we enrolled the soldiers of
freedom; they who, when the rebels shall lay down their arms,
with higher, holier weapons must end the war. Through us, two
hundred thousand[45] people--the labor and virtue of the
Republic--have spoken in our national Capitol, where their voices
were never heard before.

Those unaccustomed to balance influences, who judge of the
importance of movements by their apparent results, may deem our
efforts lost, because the Amendment and Emancipation bills have
not yet passed the House; but _we_ feel that our labors for the
past year, in the circulation of tracts and petitions and
appeals--in our lectures and letters, public and private, have
done as much to kill the rebellion, by educating the people for
the final blow, as any other organization, civil, political,
military, or religious, in the land. Could you but read the many
earnest, thrilling letters we have received from simple men and
women, in their rural homes, you would have fresh hope for the
stability of our Republic; remembering that the life of a nation
depends on the virtue of its people, and not on the dignity of
its rulers.

One poor, infirm woman in Wisconsin, who had lost her husband and
all her sons in the war, traveled on foot over _one hundred
miles_ in gathering _two thousand names_. Her letter was filled
with joy that she, too, had been able to do something for the
cause of liberty. Follow her, in imagination, through sleet and
snow, from house to house; listen to her words--mark the pathos
of her voice, as she debates the question of freedom, or tells
some tale of horror in the land of slavery, or asks her neighbors
one by one, to give their names to end such wrongs. Aside from
all she says, the _fact_ that she comes in storm, on foot, is to
all an argument, that there is something wrong in the republic,
demanding haste and action from every citizen. You who, in
crowded towns, move masses by your eloquence, scorn not the
slower modes. Remember the seeds of enthusiasm you call forth
have been planted by humbler hands--by the fireside, the old
arm-chair in the workshop, at the plow--wherever man communes
alone with God.

Our work for the past year--and what must still be our
work--involves the vital question of the nation's life. For,
until the old Union with slavery be broken, and our Constitution
so amended as to secure the elective franchise to all its
citizens who are taxed, or who bear arms to support the
Government, we have no foundations on which to build a true
Republic. We urge our countrywomen who have shown so much
enthusiasm in the war--in Sanitary and Freedmen's
Associations--now to give themselves to the broader, deeper,
higher work of reconstruction. The new nation demands the highest
type of womanhood. It is a holy mission to minister to suffering
soldiers in camp and hospital, and on the battle-field; to hold
the heads and stanch the wounds of dying heroes; but holier
still, by the magic word of freedom, to speak a dying nation into
life.

Four years ago the _many_ thought all was well in the land of the
free and the home of the brave; but _we_ knew the war was raging
then through all the Southern States. We knew the secrets of that
bastile of horrors; we heard, afar off, the shrieks and groans of
the dying, the lamentations of husbands and wives, parents and
children, sundered forever from each other. _Then_ we fed, and
clothed, and sheltered the fugitives in their weary marches where
the North Star led, and crowned with immortal wreaths the panting
heroes, pursued by the bloodhounds from the everglades of
Florida, who asked but to die in freedom under the shadow of a
monarch's throne.

Yes, the rebellion has been raging near a century on every cotton
field and rice plantation. Every vice, hardship, and abomination,
suffered by our soldiers in the war, has been the daily life in
slavery. Yet no Northern volunteers marched to the black man's
help, though he stood alone against such fearful odds, until John
Brown and his twenty-three men threw themselves into the deadly
breach. What a sublime spectacle! Behold! the black man,
forgetting all our crimes, all his wrongs for generations, now
nobly takes up arms in our defence. Look not to Greece or Rome
for heroes--to Jerusalem or Mecca for saints--but for the highest
virtues of heroism, let us worship the black man at our feet.
Mothers, redeem the past by teaching your children the limits of
human rights, with the same exactness that you now teach the
multiplication table. That "all men are created equal" is a far
more important fact for a child to understand, than that twice
two makes four.

Had we during the past century as fondly guarded the tree of
liberty, with its blessed fruits of equality, as have Southern
mothers the deadly upas of slavery, the blood of our sires and
sons, mingled with the sweat and tears of slaves, would not now
enrich the tyrant's soil, our hearthstones would not all be
desolate, nor we, with shame, behold our Northern statesmen in
the nation's councils overwhelmed with doubt and perplexity on
the simplest question of human rights. A mariner without chart or
compass, ignorant of the starry world above his head, drifting on
a troubled sea, is not more hopeless than a nation, in the throes
of revolution, without faith in the immutability and safety of
truth and justice.

Behold in the long past the endless wreck of nations--Despotisms,
Monarchies, Republics--alike, they all sprang up and
bloomed--then drooped and died, because not planted with the
seeds of life; and on their crumbling ruins the black man now
plants his feet, and as he proudly breaks his chains declares,
"MAN ABOVE ALL HUMAN GOVERNMENT."

WENDELL PHILLIPS was introduced and made an eloquent appeal in
behalf of the object of the League. He congratulated the Society
on the progress it had made, contrasted the past with the
present, referred to his experience at former meetings, and
argued that woman should have a voice and a vote in the affairs
of the nation. He showed the importance of woman's moral power
infused into the politics of the country, and of the independence
of those outside of party lines, who neither vote or hold office,
to criticise the shortcomings of our rulers. He eulogized the
manner in which Anna Dickinson had arraigned both men and
measures before the judgment-seat of the people; deplored the
slavery of party, that puts padlocks on the lips of leading
politicians. While the sons of the Puritans, with bated breath,
see in the violation of the most sacred rights of citizens the
swift-coming destruction of the Republic, and in silence wait the
shock, an inspired girl comes forward, sounds the alarm, raises
the signal of distress, and fearlessly calls the captain, pilot,
crew, and all to duty, for the Ship of State is drifting on a
rock-bound coast. Again and again is this young girl put forward
to tell the people what men in high places dare not say
themselves.

The following resolutions were then read and submitted for
discussion:

1.



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